Suspects in tourism organization scam due to face prosecutor

Five suspects arrested earlier this week after they allegedly attempted to extract money from the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) are due to face a prosecutor on Friday.

Meanwhile, a team of inspectors from the General State Accounting Office will be probing the finances of the organization following claims of 12 million euros missing from the coffers of the agency.

Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni ordered a probe into the GNTO’s finances after general secretary Panos Livadas admitted to there being some “gaps in the accounts,” following the arrests of five people, including former GNTO consultant Costas Vasilakos, on embezzlement charges.

Accountants inspected the organization’s books earlier this month and found a 12-million-euro shortfall, former general secretary Nikos Karahalios claimed. Karahalios left the organization on December 20, a day after which an aide of his attempted to cash a GNTO check bearing the official’s signature. Karahalios insists that his signature was forged and says he was unaware of the incident.

Reports said 39-year-old Costas Vasilakos, a former special adviser to Karahalios, attempted to cash the 147,000-euro check. According to a representative of the organization’s employees, Constantinos Rantos, as well as police sources, Vasilakos had succeeded in getting his hands on two GNTO checkbooks, one of which was used to write out the contentious check. Rantos also told Kathimerini that Vasilakos applied pressure on staff to divulge the organization’s banking details.